It was another classic Clipper clash, but Russell Westbrook couldn’t sink the three to win the game. In the final seconds, with the Thunder down two, Westbrook elected to take a 28 foot three point jumper off the dribble. The shot bonked off the rim, and nothing could be tipped in the final seconds.
The outcome was rather impressive, considering that the Thunder were down 8 with 3:24 to go. But tonight was a night where Victor Oladipo had a lot of consistent offense going. Oladipo was able to get to the line and hit a three pointer, getting the Thunder back to within competitive distance.
But the Thunder’s turnovers were a problem. 16 turnovers is a relatively hefty total for a team. Also, two turnovers in the final two minutes led to a Crawford three and a Rivers trip to the line. The Clippers got a couple of late offensive boosts, too. A Paul to Jordan pick and roll led to a dunk, and a Speights crossover on Adams netted the Clips a long two.
I’d still commend it as a solid performance from a growing Thunder team. There were a lot of positive signs on offense, which is what we wanted to see. Here’s the list of three point shooters who made a shot: Sabonis (4/5), Oladipo (4/8), Westbrook (3/5), Roberson (3/6), Grant (1/1), Christon (1/1). This group of Thunder players has never shot that well from three, and they probably never will again. The Thunder can’t take 28 three point shots on a regular basis.
Despite success from three, Victor Oladipo and Russell Westbrook really struggled inside the three point arc. Here’s a quick look at their shot charts:
Oladipo really struggled to make shots from...anywhere that wasn’t three. Oladipo just doesn’t have the finesse and acrobatics required to score inside as a guard in the NBA. But I’m okay with Westbrook taking a ton of mid-range shots, because that’s his game. And I’d rather Oladipo go close to the basket than far, because the inside game has to develop first. It should be Oladipo’s strong suit. I wanna see Oladipo doing this stuff:
The Clippers ruled the paint on the other end. Three baskets at the rim for Jordan, and eight baskets at the rim for Griffin. The benefits of the Clippers’ aggressive play can also be seen in the free throws. Griffin was 5 of 7, and Paul was 5 of 5. DeAndre Jordan was also 6 of 12, but that was mainly because the Thunder hacked him on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter. Despite a foul-heavy game overall, the Thunder managed to avoid all but two bonus free throws from the Clippers.
Donovan was a bit tighter with his bench rotations tonight. Joffrey Lauvergne was glued to the bench this time, replaced by able veteran Nick Collison. Collison got a gigantic cheer from the crowd. I don’t really know what to expect from Collison at this point. Watching Collison is like watching a simulation of a basketball player. All of the mechanics look right, but he’s just not at everyone else’s level. Still, it’s nice to have a vet in the game who knows positioning well.
But, for all of you Nick Collison fans, here’s a quick Vine of Collison in his season debut. Crafty veteran distraction, slick behind the back bounce pass for an easy layup. Classic Collison!
I think what ultimately separated the Clippers tonight was the contrast between Crawford and Kanter. Both players played their roles well, coming off the bench and providing an offensive spark for their respective teams. But only Crawford was a factor for his team in the fourth quarter, and viable in crunch time. Kanter sat on the bench, and OKC simply did not have the same level of firepower on the court.
This is a problem that won’t be easy to overcome. But there are other ways to win a game, and it’s not every day that Russ shoots so poorly.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, because he generated everything
Thunder Down Under: Andre Roberson, and I really really hope those threes are here to stay!
Thunder Blunder: Steven Adams, 32 minutes, 5 shots
Thunder Plunderer: Blake Griffin, hometown dunker
Next Game: Versus the Orlando Magic, Sunday, 6 PM Central Standard Time.